These habits are now pervasive across industry and the public services. “Diversity” is always “celebrated”, but it never means diversity of thought. The people who tell you they are “passionate about” X or Y are usually the most bloodless ones in the outfit.
The Armed Forces have fought several wars in the past 15 years, dealing with a Ministry of Defence staffed by people who know nothing about war
Recently, a man got in touch with me who works for the defence services contractor QinetiQ. He wanted to complain about the way it was run. The company, in his view, suffers from “managerialism”.
Managerialists, he says, are “a group who consider themselves separate from the organisations they join”. They are not interested in the content of the work their organisation performs. They are a caste of people who think they know how to manage. They have studied “The 24-hour MBA”. There is a clear benefit from their management, for them: they arrange their own very high salaries and bonuses. Then they can leave quickly with something that looks good on the CV. The benefit to the company is less clear.
I also spoke to a former senior employee of QinetiQ. He corroborated my informant’s points with gusto. He said managerialists were particularly unsuited to industries such as QinetiQ’s, where scientific knowledge is all. He put it simply: “People who are making bits of technology, or servicing them, should know about technology.”
Skills are not infinitely transferable. “You used to be the editor of a broadsheet newspaper,” he said to me. “How do you think a former chief executive of Ford would perform if he suddenly came and edited a national title?” (or, he politely didn’t say, if the reverse were to happen).